OKINAWA, JAPAN --
Eight U.S. Marine Corps scout snipers attend a five-week advanced marksmanship course commonly known as the Urban Sniper Course. The Marines used this time to refine and hone their marksmanship skills to maintain maximum proficiency at Camp Hansen on May 25.
U.S. Marines with the Expeditionary Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, instructed the Urban Sniper Course to enhance sniper skills in urban environments through precision fire, engaging targets through glass, urban tactical movement, marksmanship during the day and night, planning, and stalking in urban terrain.
“A big portion of the first week is going back to the fundamentals,” said Sgt. Todd Smith, a scout sniper with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, and a student of the Urban Sniper Course. “We are developing our marksmanship skills to the proficiency of when we first graduated sniper school.”
The snipers arrived at the range early in the morning to receive a safety brief and review the lessons they had learned before beginning to fire. The students were fired in multiple positions, at a variety of unknown distances, perfecting their accuracy. After, the students received several new classes before starting the nighttime portion of the event. During this time, they reviewed the fundamentals of marksmanship in a nighttime environment.
“The Urban Sniper Course was designed to better prepare snipers who are assigned as part of the maritime raid force.” Gunnery Sgt. Augusto Zapata, chief instructor of EOTG, III MEF
“This course provides Marines with advanced marksmanship skills and employment techniques to better support the maritime raid force component of the MEU,” said Gunnery Sgt. Augusto Zapata, the chief instructor of Expeditionary Operations Training Group, III MEF.
Scout snipers have two main roles. They use high-caliber weapons to prohibit the enemy from moving freely in a target area by disrupting their operations and conducting reconnaissance and surveillance to report to their command.
“Being a scout sniper is an occupation that demands a lot of technical proficiency,” said Zapata. “Snipers must be very knowledgeable in science intertwined with mathematics. They must calculate internal, external and terminal ballistics as well as compensate for all the external factors such as weather. However, the art comes into play when they master that science to the point where they can speed through the process and come to a solution for the problem.”
The course follows a crawl, walk, and run mentality, preparing the students for marksmanship evaluations. All the Marines must pass the evaluations to graduate from the course. They will be given several obstacles, including firing at several targets from unknown distances, engaging in simulated urban threats, and engaging in aerial marksmanship.
“It's always nice to be surrounded by snipers, especially with more senior snipers,” said Smith. “We have gunnery sergeants, staff sergeants, and civilian instructors with a wealth of knowledge that they have learned over 15 years of being snipers. The knowledge they have acquired is then easily passed on to us and gives us more wisdom while developing a professional character, and I look forward to refining my profession during the next few weeks.”